« FöregåendeFortsätt »
THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.
77 ing of our real character is thus set before us! Christ was humble. Do you indulge ruling pride ? If so, you have not his Spirit, you are none of his. Christ was devoted to God. Are you careless of him ? If so, you have not his Spirit, you are none of his. Christ in his temper displayed meekness, gentleness, and forbearance. Do haughtiness, and harshness, and violence reign in yours? If so, you have not his Spirit, you are none of his Christ was forgiving to his enemies. Are you implacable and unforgiving to yours? If so, you have not his Spirit, you are none of his Christ was dead to this world. Is it the object of your love, and the aim of your life? If so, you have not his Spirit, you are none of his. Christ was holy, harmless, and undefiled. Do you live the willing servant of any lust, the slave of any sin ? If so, you have not his Spirit, you are none of his. But do you feel wrought in your soul a strong desire to grow like him? do you find a relish for spiritual objects, a devotedness to Christ ? do you experience a prevalent concern to acquire his image ? to be holy, humble, self-denying, meek and gentle, dead to the world and all its charms, alive to God, and bent on heaven? You may surely take encouragement from this, and view it as one of the clearest testimonies to your possession of the grace of God; for doubtless the reverse of the solemn declaration, just mentioned, is as true as that declaration itself, If any man have the Spirit of Christ, he is one of his.
$ 11. The promised aid of the Spirit furnishes an encouraging motive for pursuing eminent holiness. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Were the Christian left to his own feeble powers, he might be disposed, at times, almost to sink beneath the load of life, and to consider exertion hopeless. But, God worketh in you;What now is wanted to insure the acquisition of every grace? God worketh in you, both to will and to do. He gives the holy desire. He gives ability to execute the desire, to do what the soul longs to perform. Could a promise like this be made in reference to much meaner objects than advancement towards heaven, how powerful would be its effect. Were it said to the pious husbandman, by a voice from heaven, “Till your fields with care, you shall not labour in vain, God works with you.” How zealous would be his labour!
78. CAUTIONS AGAINST GRIEVING THE SPIRIT. How rich a harvest would he anticipate! What an incitement would he feel to activity!
$ 12. Hence we perceive no real Christian can have any sufficient excuse for living the slave of any corrupt habit or temper. We sometimes hear persons that profess religion acknowledge respecting some corruption indulged in their life, temper, or conduct, I know it is wrong, but I cannot help it. If such persons possess the grace of God, this excuse will not avail. They can help what is amiss, for Jesus says, “ My grace is sufficient for thee;" and his apostle declares, “ I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.” For a professed Christian to plead in excuse of improper conduct, “ I cannot help it,” is either to declare he is no Christian, or to utter a plea which is absolutely false. If he be a Christian, the grace of Christ would, if sought, be sufficient to enable him to discharge the most difficult duties, and to master the most obstinate habits of vice.
$ 13. The important discoveries which the Holy Scriptures make, respecting the blessed Spirit's agency, are connected with cautions or directions of the utmost moment to man's eternal welfare. « Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.” “Be ye filled with the Spirit.”m “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."n As our obligations to the Holy Spirit are so immense, as advancement in the divine life, and grow. ing meetness for heaven, depend upon his blessing, to slight or grieve him is unspeakably foolish and wicked. Can the lamp burn without oil to feed its flame? can the cold earth bloom with vernal beauty, without the sun to warm its frozen surface, and to call that beauty forth ? can the stream flow whose fountain is dried up? can the limbs move, when the heart has ceased to play? Yet as easily would the lamp burn without oil, the earth bloom without the enlivening sun, the stream flow without a fountain, and the limbs move when the heart is still in death, as man shine in Christian graces without the sanctifying Spirit. Then prize the Spirit. Quench not the Spirit; resist not his gentle motions; stifle not his still small voice. Grieve not the Spirit. This admonition expresses the interest he takes in human welfare. Grieve him not by slighting his blessed influences. Grieve him not by
(0) Gal. v, 16. (m) Eph. v. 18. 1 Thess. v. 19. (n) Eph. iv, 30.
HIS INFLUENCE TO BE SOUGHT. undervaluing his aid. Grieve him not by allowing unclean imaginations, and hateful passions, to harbour in his temple. Grieve him not by lagging in the Christian course, when he prompts you to run the race that is set before you. Grieve him not by cherishing a slothful lukewarm mind, when he is exciting in your soul desires after fervent piety and distinguished usefulness. Perhaps the Scriptures contain no admonition more momentous than this, yet how is this forgotten ! Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and similar commandments, are frequently recollected, but, Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, is, by many that profess religion, an almost unregarded precept. As you wish to be meetened for eternal blessedness, let regard to this important rule govern your life. Often think, “ Is there any thing in the dispositions I cherish, or the conduct I pursue, calculated to grieve the Spirit? or am I anxious to enjoy his blessed aid, and to be guided and led by the Spirit ?
To these admonitions the Lord Jesus Christs adds, what is in fact a direction to pray for the Spirit's aid, “I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?” Encouraging consideration such a Father will not refuse a blessing so precious!
While we are taught that the Spirit's influence is of so much consequence to our own comfort, holiness, and happiness, we are reminded that it is of equal importance in our endeavours to benefit others. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? Í have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth ; but God that giveth the increase."P
$ 14. An animating motive for gratitude is furnished by the subject of this chapter. Had a kind physician, at an immense expense, ransomed from the gallows a wretch condemned to die, and then cured him of a deadly plague that infused its (o) Luke xi. 9, 10, 13.
(0) 1 Cor. iii. 5-7.
REFLECTIONS ON THE WONDERS AND poison through every vein, and threatened him with a dreadful and inevitable death, this man would lie under a vast and two-fold obligation to his kind benefactor. Yet how insignificant would be these obligations compared with those under which every heir of heaven is brought. He, like this ruined but favoured criminal, has enjoyed a double deliverance from death and ruin, from condemnation without and the plague of sin within. How divinely amiable does God appear as exhibited in the Scriptures, and how infinitely glorious a scheme is that for human redemption! The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, conjointly the infinite and everlasting God, are all represented as acting their part in the wonderful scheme. The Father pities an undone world, and cherishes love so infinite, that he gives his beloved Son to be the sinner's sacrifice. He sends him into this world, by one dreadful offering of himself, to atone for sins unnumbered, and for guilt that deserved eternal wrath. The Son, acting his part in the wonderful plan of mercy, assumes human nature, and comes to be a willing victim. He dies, and accomplishes his Father's pur. poses, and his own. The scheme of mercy has proceeded so far, that God can now be just, and criminal man be saved ; sin be punished, and the sinner be forgiven; for the Son of God has atoned for sin, and brought in an everlasting righteousness. He rises from the dead, and his Father thus declares that justice has no more claim upon him. He rises to heaven, to pursue the work of mercy in which he laboured while upon earth. But all the parts of this amazing scheme are not yet developed. The agency of the Spirit is now introduced to complete the wonderfully gracious plan. He enlightens the mind, subdues the soul, disposes it to adore the Father's love, to rest on the Son's sacrifice. He renews its dispositions, forms it to a meetness for heaven, and trains it up for that happy state. Thus God begins the scheme, God carries it forward, and God completes it. From first to last it is divine. It began in divine love, it ends in human happiness promoting the divine glory. It began in heaven, was pursued on earth, and ends in heaven. It began in eternity, was carried on in time, and when completed extends its effects to all eternity. This transitory world is the theatre on which the most wonderful part of this plan was acted ; but it originated in the eternal world, and is completed there. Man, the object
GOODNESS DISPLAYED IN MAN'S REDEMPTION. 81 of this scheme of mercy, stands infinitely indebted to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Had the kindness of either been withheld, man would have been for ever undone. The atonement of the Son would not benefit the sinner, were the influence of the Spirit withheld, nor would the influences of the Spirit prepare him for heaven, were an interest in the atonement denied him ; nor would either have been exerted for him, if the Father had not so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son for human salvation. O, see God acting all through this scheme of mercy, and filling up the wondrous whole. See man, the object of the eternal Father's pity, of the Son's sufferings, and of the Spirit's influence. See every one that reaches the abodes of light, indebted, eternally indebted, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Among the nations of the saved, not one can or ever will be found not thus indebted. Not one of whom it can be said, He owes his happiness to other friends, or other sources; he owes salvation to the purity of his heart, to the vigour of his exertions, to the merit of his labours, or the severity of his sufferings. Among the countless myriads of the great multitude that no man can number, not one such will be found. The agency of God will be seen to have been exerted for them all; the Father to have loved them all; the Son to have atoned for them all; the Spirit to have renewed them all. The salvation of each and all, will be seen as of God, from first to last. Thus, while God shines conspicuous through all the scheme of love, while God is seen beginning, pursuing, completing the wonderful plan, the praise, the endless praise, will be the Lord's. Adore this mysterious love; admire this amazing plan of mercy; and pray to be the ineffably happy partaker of this unsearchable grace.